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Kaleb Cowart’s Clock Keeps Ticking



ANAHEIMThe glove, the hands, the range, the arm—the entire defensive package—is definitely ready. Kaleb Cowart made that clear last September, when the third baseman, in the heat of a pennant race, shined as a regular late-game replacement for David Freese.

Not only did Cowart, 23, not commit any errors in 20 games over the final month of 2015, he made several outstanding plays.


"Man, I can always play defense—that’s not hard for me,” Cowart said this spring, when asked if his work under pressure last September gave him a confidence boost.

The next step for Cowart is to prove his bat can play in the big leagues, too, but he’s running out of time and opportunity.

The Angels selected Cowart, a two-way standout at his Adel, Ga., high school, in the first round in 2010 thinking he would be in the big leagues by now, but his development stalled at Double-A Arkansas in 2013.

The Angels demoted Cowart to high Class A Inland Empire to start 2015. He reverted to his old batting stance, moving his hands farther away from his body and standing in a more upright position, and hit .242/.326/.387 with 20 extra-base hits in 51 games.

A strong 62-game stint at Triple-A Salt Lake—he hit .323/.395/.491—earned Cowart a promotion to the big leagues last August. But the Angels’ acquisition of Yunel Escobar from the Nationals in December pushed Cowart back to Triple-A to start 2016.

Escobar’s contract includes a $7 million option for 2017, and Cowart also has competition at Triple-A from Kyle Kubitza, acquired from the Braves before 2015.

Both Cowart and Kubitza have worked out at second base, and both are expected to play the position at Salt Lake.

"I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” Cowart said. "I think the more positions you can play, the more opportunity you give yourself. Third base is my primary position, but if I can play other places, I can be more valuable.”

ANGEL FOOD

• Lefthander Hunter Green, a 20-year-old who missed the last two seasons because of injuries, retired. The 2013 second-round pick, who signed for $942,000, logged 17 pro innings.

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Kaleb Cowart Returns To The Mound

A first-round pick in 2010, Cowart is looking to revitalize his major league career with a move to the pitcher's mound.

• Cuban shortstop Roberto Baldoquin opened 2016 at Inland Empire, where he struggled at the plate, hitting an empty .235, and with injuries in 2015. The Angels hope he can advance to Double-A by midseason.

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